James Mangold On ‘How He Got Away With’ Making The R-Rated ‘Logan’

02.28.17 4 months ago
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In 2013, James Mangold had a daunting task: to take the ruins of what’s considered one of the most maligned superhero movie made to date, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and make a sequel out that mess of a film. Mangold’s strategy was to pretty much forget the first film ever happened and go small, sending Logan (Hugh Jackman) to Japan in a superhero story that was a rarity: the world wasn’t at stake.

Even back then, Mangold was already teasing the fact he wanted to do an R-rated Wolverine story. This has been something a lot of filmmakers have talked about: taking an A-list superhero and putting them in a gritty, R-rated atmosphere. James Gunn kind of did this with Super, but those were original characters, not a Marvel property. Then 2015’s R-rated Deadpool came along, made a quarter of a billion dollars, and all of a sudden the idea of am R-rated Wolverine movie didn’t seem so far-fetched.

With Logan, we find Wolverine (Jackman) and an aging Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) living in Mexico as two of only a handful of mutants left alive. It’s 2029 and no one seems really happy. One day a young girl (Dafne Keen), with powers a lot like Logan’s, enters their lives – which sends them on a desperate trip to North Dakota to find a fabled haven for mutants. Logan is gory, depressing and exactly the movie Mangold has been wanting to make for years.

Ahead, Mangold takes us through the process of getting an R-rated Wolverine movie made – and how he used comic books as a plot device to try to tie Logan in with the other films and that maybe what we saw before were tall tales – something from the comics that Logan now finds annoying. It’s an interesting storytelling technique for a superhero movie unlike really anything we’ve seen before.

You seem excited.

I’m excited. I just am generally excited. I’m always excited after I finish a movie because I’m breathing. I’m alive and these things are such monumental efforts – that when you get to the point of putting it out, you’re just so happy.

The gritty, rated-R, superhero movie with a big superhero in it is kind of a Holy Grail and you just pulled it off. There’s Deadpool, but that’s almost a comedy…

I have to tell you that I think I agree. I don’t know about “Holy Grail”…

I’m saying in that people have talked about this a long time…

I love you saying it.

But people in your position have been trying to do this for awhile.

Myself and my collaborators – particularly in the cutting room; a lot of the people I’ve worked with for many movies – we all sat watching this movie in the last stages of the cut and said we can’t believe we got away with this. So we do know what you mean – meaning all of us recognize that the movie feels, to us, very personal, very intimate, very handcrafted. I mean, let’s put it another way, which was quite intentional: I was not coming back, nor was Hugh Jackman, to make a kind of artifact that exists to both continue a kind of DVD suite that they sell every year in a package. To move toys and t-shirts, and to kind of just facilitate the further marketing of a franchise.

There aren’t even any superhero costumes in this.

No. That’s why I thought it was so hilarious when this whole Mister Sinister rumor came up.

Right, or that Deadpool’s going to show up, “Hey, how about some jokes?”

That’s why I was so…

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